The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning works closely with the agricultural community to conserve agricultural lands and strengthen the agricultural economy. A number of the Department’s economic development, community development, planning and environmental management programs provide assistance to the agricultural community. The following programs are devoted to agricultural assistance:
Development and Implementation of County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan
New York State provides matching grants to assist counties and towns with development of agricultural and farmland protection plans. Those plans identify how municipalities can maintain the economic viability of their agricultural industry and the supporting land base. In 2011, Erie County was awarded a matching grant to support preparation of a new Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan. The Department, working closely with the community, the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and its consultant, American Farmland Trust, recently completed the new Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.
A number of Erie County towns have also adopted an Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan.
New York State Agriculture and Markets Law authorizes the creation of local agricultural districts pursuant to landowner initiative, preliminary county review, state certification, and county adoption. Agricultural districts encourage the continued use of farmland for agricultural production based on a combination of landowner incentives and protections, all of which are designed to forestall the conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses.
The Department of Environment and Planning manages all aspects of district creation, review and recertification, working closely with the County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board and the County Legislature. Erie County’s 14 agricultural districts, shown on this map, cover 433 farms and 259,866 acres, 39 percent of the County’s land area. You can also use Erie County’s Online Mapping System to view agricultural districts by parcel.
Coordination of local planning and land use decision-making with the Agricultural Districts program
According to New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, when an applicant applies for a rezoning, special use permit, site plan approval, use variance, or subdivision of parcels within 500 feet of a farm operation in an agricultural district, the applicant is required to fill out an Agricultural Data Statement. The municipal board must evaluate and consider the agricultural data statement in its review of the possible impacts of the proposed project upon the functioning of farm operations within such agricultural district.
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board
New York State Agriculture and Markets Law empowers counties to create Agricultural and Farmland Protection Boards with a broad-based membership to bring together farmers and government officials, bring broader community goals to oversight of agricultural districts, bring appreciation of agriculture’s needs back to the broader community, and build bridges and bring together diverse perspectives.
Agricultural and Farmland Protection Boards may recommend creation and renewal of agricultural districts, comment on “notices of intent” to undertake development projects in agricultural districts, and guide, assess and approve Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans.
For more information on Erie County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board please contact the Department of Environment and Planning.
The New York State Guide for Harvest Times and Produce Availability can help you to buy foods that are in season and grown locally!